Online database for employment tribunal judgments confirmed

Employment tribunal judgments are currently kept in an archaic paper filing system like this one. Photofusion/REX/Shutterstock.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has confirmed that new employment tribunal decisions will be made publicly available online from late 2016 or early 2017.

The database will allow the public to search for first-instance judgments from England, Wales and Scotland using drop-down menus and a free-text search.

Currently, anyone wanting to search or browse employment tribunal decisions must attend in person at offices in Bury St Edmunds for English and Welsh decisions, and in Glasgow for Scottish decisions.

Podcast: Employment tribunals –
the state of play

XpertHR employment law editors Ellie Gelder and Stephen Simpson discuss the implications of employment tribunal decisions being available online.

Copies of specific decisions can be ordered by mail for a fee.

Past employment tribunal decisions will not be available through the online database but will continue to be available in Bury St Edmunds and Glasgow.

HMCTS confirmed the details of the online service at the October meeting of the national employment tribunal user group.

The move to online access is meant to facilitate “open justice”, a principle applicable to all courts and tribunals.

HMCTS acknowledged that there are risks in placing decisions online, including possibilities for blacklisting and research into outcomes and patterns of decisions.

“Both employers and workers risk facing bad publicity from unfavourable employment tribunal judgments if they are made available online,” said Qian Mou, employment law editor at XpertHR.

“However, the knowledge that the details of their dispute will be made public should provide incentive for both parties to settle, as well as bring more transparency to the employment tribunal system.”

Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decisions and Court of Appeal decisions on employment law are currently available via the EAT online service, the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary’s online service and the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII).

Decisions of the Northern Ireland industrial tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal are already available online.

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